clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Red Bulls Expert Guide: July 5, 2021

The Steven Sserwadda watch continues and Jesse Marsch settles in at Leipzig while we also check in on Hollywood Hans Backe in this week’s links

DC United v New York Red Bulls - Eastern Conference Semifinals
Former Red Bulls manager Hans Backe has made himself “the big snack” of Swedish soccer punditry
Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Welcome to the Red Bulls Expert Guide presented by Once a Metro.

It’s not easy writing this weekly blog. I have an undergraduate degree in American soccer, a master’s in MLS, and am currently studying for my doctorate in New York Red Bulls. For now, I have been given an assistant position at this website with no guarantee of tenure. Hopefully everything works out.

Here’s this week’s top story.


Where in the world is supposed New York Red Bulls II signing Steven Sserwadda?

The young midfielder was named to the latest Ugandan national team side, a motley crew of mostly U-23 players. There was a brief training camp in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He started and played 56 minutes in a friendly against al-‘Akhdar.

Of course, those Red Bulls fans hoping to catch a flight to the Middle East would be too late, as Sserwadda and the Cranes are now in Ethiopia for the 2021 CECAFA U-23 Challenge Cup. Uganda is the defending champion, having won the competition over a dozen times. This year’s edition is being held at the Bahir Dar International stadium in Addis Ababa from July 3rd through the 18th.

Check your cable listings. I’m sure it’s there somewhere. And, of course, the Sserwadda signing will be announced shortly, with his arrival following soon after… probably.


Former Red Bulls striker Brandon Allen has a new team. The 2016 USL Cup champion signed with Oakland Roots, adding veteran experience to the club. Since leaving New York, he’s played with Bethlehem Steel, Nashville SC, Tampa Bay Rowdies, and Memphis 901.


Total Football Analysis wrote up a full breakdown for the tactics of one Jesse Marsch. What can Leipzig fans expect from the new manager? What will New York fans recognize from the old gaffer? As expected, there is a lot of pressing and vertical play, the latter of which is clearly more of a “Salzburg thing.”

I can tell you that it’s a good article because the word “Princeton” is not mentioned once.


Speaking of that whole Leipzig thing, Red Bull global head of soccer Oliver Mintzlaff was interviewed by Bild. The former long-distance runner discussed preparations for the upcoming German Bundesliga season, describing hiring Jesse Marsch as “progress” and “a different type of coach who will help develop us further.” He even shared some insight into the original hiring process with MLS.

“We never get a trainer as an emergency nail, but out of complete conviction,” said Mintzlaff. “I’ve known Jesse for a long time, [and] hired him as head coach at the New York Red Bulls back in 2015, when I was responsible for global issues. After two doubles in Salzburg, he wanted to do something new in two years. When Julian [Nagelsmann] told me… that he would like to move to Bayern [Munich], I called Jesse on the same evening.”

Hmm… that’s strange. I thought Ali Curtis was solely responsible for Marsch being hired in New York. I certainly wouldn’t want to ruffle feathers or stomp on any narratives by pointing out how unlikely that story seemed at the time. People sure parroted it with mindless enthusiasm!

Also, Leipzig is apparently starting the season without a sporting director. So don’t expect that previously-discussed global sporting director position to be filled anytime soon.


Former Red Bull Jared Stroud appeared on The Soccer Soup Podcast, discussing life with Alan Gordon, Sal Zizzo, and Dan Gargan. His career was a steady rise through the various levels of youth soccer and the Red Bull system. The way he tells it, the pandemic had a crucial part in his insertion into the first team, notably due to the departure of someone else.

“We had players like Josh Sims, they just left and never came back,” he shared. “I got to play a lot of minutes… Maybe it was fortunate for me in some ways… Well, Sims was on loan. So, he was just like, ‘I’m not coming back.’ He didn’t really want to be here anyways. He was like a young [Designated Player] so it always was going to be tough for me to take his spot. He was just like, ‘I’m not coming back.’ And they were like, ‘All right.’”

Stroud says that he owes a lot to Preston Burpo and Bradley Carnell, who gave him significant playing time. He was also “pretty upset” about being benched for the playoff game, but understands that the organization is trying to get younger. Now a key player in Austin, the 24-year-old is thriving at his new club.

Sims is... also doing… things… and… stuff.


Here’s a story that was submitted to the Expert Guide by Huan of New London.

Hey, guys! Ralf Rangnick might have a new job! The former Red Bull multi-hyphenate is set to become the sporting director at FC Lokomotiv Moscow! He is currently serving as a “sporting consultant” for the Russian Premier League side, with the intent of helping to “develop a selection and development strategy.”

According to Sporx, Rangnick desires the hiring of three assistants earning a combined one million euros and “an annual salary of 3.5 million euros.” He is also receiving interest from Fenerbahçe. The official announcement should be “in the coming days.”

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd RBlive says there is nothing to the rumor as “Rangnick’s advisor has denied the report.” That was fun, wasn’t it? Let’s take another spin on that carousel next month.


Former New York Red Bulls II striker Amarildo Aparecido de Souza Junior reportedly has a new club.

The 22-year-old striker is taking a giant step up in the world, moving to Europe. According to A Bola, he is set to join Famalicão of the Portuguese Primeira Liga. Described perhaps unfairly as “an unknown footballer in the Old Continent who has struggled to assert himself in the lower levels of Brazilian football,” his most recent stint appears to have been with Tombense in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série C. His new club finished last season at ninth place in the league, a solidly mid-table finish.


Who has generated the most buzz during EURO 2020? Which name is on the hearts and minds of social media users? The answer is, of course, Hans Backe.

That may have been a bit of an overstatement, but the former and forever Red Bulls manager was “the big snack” on Swedish social media while expert commentator…-ing the Sweden and Polish match for TV4. His calm nature inspired a series of memes, with fans shocked at how a person could react to such intensity with an almost benign indifference. For a man so focused on the kingly sport of horse racing, a soccer match may be viewed as child’s play, regardless of competition.

In addition to meme status, Backe is also enjoying fatherhood from his villa in Sundbyberg, Sweden, using a sports metaphor to describe the experience. “If you have to describe it in tennis terms, it’s like going into the final of Wimbledon and hitting a serve and then you win Wimbledon,” he told Aftonbladet. “Given his age, he definitely keeps me going. It’s damn fun.”

I don’t think anybody asked you to describe it in tennis terms, for good reason. I’m just kidding, Hans. We have fun here. You keep enjoying life.

Here’s a joke that was submitted by Helena of Randolph.

If I have to describe my children in baseball terms, they’re all below the Mendoza line.

Thank you, Helena. I’m sure they’re doing their best.


Do you have a story you’d like to submit to the Expert Guide? Email us at or send a DM to @Once_A_Metro on Twitter.